I’ve wanted to study abroad in Japan since I was in middle school, so of course I was very excited when I first got there. I found that month by month my excitement slowly became replaced by comfort and familiarity, and as I adjusted to Japan it became home to me. Its society, my classes, and the friends I’d made from around the world helped me to grow as a person in more ways than I expected.
First, I became more patient. Japanese society values social harmony over everything, and making lines was a way for everyone to keep social order and peace. I waited in line for almost everything I did on a daily basis, from catching the bus to taking a number to wait in another line.
In contrast to this, I learned how to let loose. My previous experiences in Japan had taught me that I must do as everyone else does and never disturb the status quo. However, this semester I learned about something called a “gaijin pass.” Gaijin means outsider, and since I don’t look full Japanese (or even half to some people) I was able to get out of conforming to some of the more annoying aspects of Japanese society by pretending I was ignorant to them, which really saved me a lot of stress.
Most importantly, I learned more about different cultures and grew my understanding of them and other people in general. My classes at Kansai Gaidai taught me so much about how other cultures operate and behave on a daily basis, and I came to understand that people I once thought of as rude or snobby were just behaving normally according to their culture. I’ll never forget what I learned in my classes because they enabled me to become friends with people from around the world and will definitely prove to be useful for the rest of my life.
Thank you to the Education Abroad Department for this amazing opportunity and to Kansai Gaidai for a semester I will always remember. また後で！